RFA’s automated Mass Distance Charges could double revenue

WINDHOEK The Road Fund Administration's (RFA) plan to increase its revenue collection by automating Mass Distance Charges, which has been hailed as a first for Africa, could actually double the revenue collected from this service. During the 2017/18 financial year, the RFA collected about N$120 million from Mass Distance Charges alone.

The RFA revealed plans to automate Mass Distance Charges in its five-year business plan, which runs from April 2018 to March 2023. RFA Chief Executive Officer, Ali Ipinge, yesterday said by deploying the envisaged technology, the RFA will be able to eliminate false and erroneous declarations of the distance heavy vehicles have travelled on Namibia's roads.

The envisaged technology is expected to track the distance covered by vehicles exceeding a Gross Vehicle Mass of 3,5 tonnes, and automatically report kilometres travelled to a central system. Heavy vehicles have been identified as the main culprits in eroding the national road network hence the need for these vehicles to foot more of the road maintenance and rehabilitation bill. The consumption of roads increases more sharply with the increase of a vehicle's mass.

The introduction of an automated Mass Distance Charge is one of the RFA's strategies to increase its revenue collection efforts, which are in turn used to maintain and preserve the national road network as well as urban roads and streets. This is achieved through funding allocation to approved authorities, chief among these being the Roads Authority, local authorities and traffic law enforcement.

It has been reported that the planned automation could possibly be combined with an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system to improve compliance and law enforcement, as well as a Radio Frequency Identification tag in each affected vehicle.

Currently, heavy vehicle drivers use a logbook system where they record distance travelled on Namibian roads. These distances are recorded and the calculated mass distance charges are then paid over to RFA on a monthly or annual basis. The logbooks contain about 50 pages and have to be filled in whenever the driver stops to overnight. The RFA has repeatedly stated that the current system has numerous shortcomings resulting in a significant amount of revenue being lost on an annual basis.

Namibian law enforcement may at any time request a heavy vehicle operator to present their logbook. When owners and operators of Namibian registered vehicles are caught without, or an incomplete logbook, such owners or operator may be fined on the spot or face prosecution. An owner or operator who commits an offence in this regard is liable to be fined.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia